Still Missing Callie

Our sweet Callie took her final journey two years ago this morning. Some days it feels like yesterday.

I miss waking up to this sweet face

And witnessing the loving bond she shared with Shadow…

And the insanity that erupted in the house when Ducky invited her to play

After I read the first draft of this post, I went back and read the posts I wrote last year around the time of Callie’s first “anniversary” in Heaven. Everything I wrote in those earlier posts holds true now. I miss my sweet girl more every day. 

But Shadow and Ducky fill my hours with unconditional love and moments of hilarious entertainment that take the edge off my heartache. For that I am eternally grateful. And knowing that their older sister’s spirit is always with us, watching over us, gives me great comfort.

Dog Mom Shames Self

You would think that after watching and writing about Ducky’s interactions – good, bad, or neutral – with Shadow since Callie got her angel wings that I would realize when something is amiss.

But noooooo. DUHHH! After nearly 16 months it finally sunk in on Wednesday morning. 

I made an appointment with the vet on Monday thinking Ducky had somehow ended up with another UTI, despite the surgery in late February. She had been licking back there – almost constantly – all day Sunday. 

Ducky had been increasingly bratty toward Shadow (again!) since the previous Thursday night. She was snarky almost every waking moment; and hubby was getting snarky with her and me. Talk about stress overload! But we all survived.

Wednesday morning while Ducky and I waited in the exam room, it hit me like a smack upside the head. ­čÖä

Since Callie ­čśç went to Heaven/the Rainbow Bridge/ in late August 2015, Ducky had been acting sweeter, more considerate/respectful of Shadow. EXCEPT when she wasn’t feeling well. 

Every. Single. Time. Ducky isn’t feeling well, she takes it out on poor Shadow. Because Shadow won’t “tell her off” like Callie used to, or like hubby and I do. Shadow just isn’t built that way.  

Anyway, Ducky’s medical issue this time was a slightly impacted, somewhat inflamed right anal gland. How she ended up with that is beyond me. But the vet cleaned her out, gave her some loving, and sent some Carprofen and antibiotics home with us. She started feeling better almost immediately afterward. And having a spa treatment at daycare a few hours later? Well, she was just in doggie heaven that night! Ôś║´ŞĆ

During the exam, I mentioned to the vet how hubby and I were seriously considering consulting a veterinary behaviorist about Ducky’s bratitude. 

And how it had finally dawned on me that it’s only really problematic when she isn’t feeling well. So, since we really can’t afford a behaviorist anyway, the vet suggested I start keeping track of Ducky’s worst days/nights and obsessive behaviors.  He feels I’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head, but the only way to be sure is to keep a written record of it. So, that’s what I’m going to do from this point forward. 

Anyway, things are pretty much back to normal. We spent most of the day Thursday in the yard without a peep out of Ducky. Even when Shadow sniffed at “her” toy for a moment. (I was so stunned by Ducky’s lack of reaction that I couldn’t even say “good girl!” in time for her to know why I’d said it.)

Pot Pourri Friday

Usually, when we get to a certain point in the ride down to daycare, Ducky will start barking at people at the gas station on the corner.

This morning she just chilled out on the back seat. So, since we were waiting at the red light, I grabbed my phone and took this pic….

Isn’t she adorable with that head tilt? And, oh! Those ears! Those ears still “get” me every. damn. time!

And, lest we forget Shadow….how could I ever forget my sweet Golden Girl?! 


With Ducky at daycare, we girls can relax in the shade of the carport. The sun is HOT this afternoon. At least for this time of year. Shadow is resting on the driveway.  I wonder if she’s thinking about Callie – like I am – and all the fun times they spent in the yard together?


In this pic, they were resting after a game of keep-away/catch-me-if-you-can. That was their favorite game out here in the yard. Sometimes I played with them; other times I just watched them play together. 

Oh, Ducky! Part 3 – Making Progress

Before I get started on this post, let me say HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

So, for those of you who are interested but missed Parts 1 and 2 of this “Oh, Ducky!” saga, you can find them here and here.

And for those of you who have been following along and waiting (or not) for the next “installment”, here goes…

Back at the beginning of November the Whole Dog Journal published a blog post entitled “Listen to Your Gut When It Comes to Your Dog – and Act on It!” ┬áby Nancy Kerns. I skimmed over it, put it aside, and promptly forgot about it.

Until a few days before Christmas that is.

I was working with Ducky out in the back yard. About ten minutes earlier she had gotten a bit snarky with Shadow – again – over who knows what at this point. ┬áThis has been going on almost daily for more than two months. I’m tired of it.

And I’m tired of her barking her fool head off at hubby and acting like a cujo dog every time he gets up out of his chair to do whatever.

And I’m really┬átired of hubby yelling at her to stop barking at him. I love him to the moon and back; but sometimes he drives me up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the opposite wall. Yelling at a dog to stop barking is like laughing at a little kid while telling ┬ásaid kid to stop laughing. Ya know?

Admittedly, my frustration with the situation tends to surface in my tone of voice and transfers to my patience level. Or lack thereof.

Anyway, I’ve been working with Ducky on her place command pretty intensely and will continue to do so. (Especially in the morning so I can study or just read.) She settles down into a little nap pretty quickly once she’s had a chance to relieve herself out in the yard.

But,┬áwhile Ducky continues to do what I ask of her most of the time – providing there aren’t any tree rats or other critters to distract her – I’ve noticed some momentary tail tucks. And that breaks my heart.

So, I’ve started an online course to help me get a handle on Ducky’s reactivity by getting a handle on my own reactions to her behaviors. I just started the course last week, but I’m starting to see some progress….

Normally Ducky starts getting snarky when I’m giving her (Ducky) attention and Shadow starts approaching us. That’s been my┬áimpatience trigger. This past week┬áI’ve been forcing myself to stay calm when Ducky starts getting snarky. I’ve just held her in place, told her to relax, and kept her there until she calmed down. The shuddering and shivering as she calmed herself┬áThursday morning only lasted less than a minute.

So, we’re making some progress. Whether or not the combination of the Fluoxetine and Trazodone is any more effective than just the Fluoxetine by itself I may never know. But as long as the two together – along with the change in my approach to the problem – works, I’m not going to look a gift┬ádog in the mouth.

Oh, Ducky…┬á

I started writing this post last night – and accidentally published it with just the title – but have since trashed it. So, bear with me as I try again to put the story out there into Blogville.

Last night Ducky got snarky with Shadow again. Not just the growling and grumbling type of snarky, but the nasty, scary, “I want to hurt you” type. Poor Shadow was totally taken aback, totally surprised by Ducky’s viciousness toward her. So were hubby and I. It happened so fast that even though I caught a glimpse of it coming, I couldn’t get out of my chair fast enough to prevent it. And, believe me when I say I’ve become quite adept at preventing these horrible moments. But this one I missed – the earliest clues at least – completely.

Shadow was standing near the one dog bed, looking at it as if trying to decide if she wanted to curl up on it. Ducky was standing nearby. Hubby and I were watching a movie, and at first neither of us noticed Ducky’s intense focus on Shadow. Suddenly Ducky was growling and trying to bite Shadow’s front legs while Shadow tried to back away from her. Ducky wouldn’t let go. I tried a few times to grab Ducky’s collar from behind her; but Shadow was trying to defend herself, and I didn’t want her to accidentally bite me in the process. I finally managed to grab Ducky’s collar and pull her away as Shadow backed away. I smacked Ducky on the rear end, shouted “bad girl!” at her, and then closed her in the room downstairs for a while so I could tend to Shadow. Admittedly, smacking Ducky on the butt probably was not a good idea, but she sure knew that I was angry.

Shadow was physically fine. Hubby thought he noticed her limping but then said she seemed to be walking normally. I lovingly checked her over – head to toe – and found no sign of any damage. So I gave her lots of belly and chest rubs and kisses and reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and was, as always, a very good girl. And she quickly forgave her little sister. I figured it was time to check on the little brat.

I went downstairs, clipped the long leash to Ducky’s collar, brought her back upstairs and put her in a place command on the new dog┬ábed we received recently. She looked at me with those pleading, sorrowful eyes and fell asleep. I kept the leash attached to her collar and the handle end in my hand the rest of the night until we came in from their bedtime potty break. Hubby and I took turns watching Ducky so we could each get ready for bed. She had calmed down by then, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Since I got up this morning I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what caused Ducky’s “outburst” last night. At the time there didn’t seem to be any truly good “reason” for it. Shadow wasn’t anywhere near Ducky’s favorite toy. And she certainly wasn’t coveting any attention from either hubby or me.

It dawned on me that any time Ducky has been snarky with Shadow these past 15 months (since Callie became a heaven’s angel), it has been when she was feeling under the weather for whatever reason. And most of the time that reason was at least partly due to her anxieties.

Recently I’ve been seeing that Prozac may be having negative effects on dogs being treated with it, as Ducky is, for anxiety and the canine equivalent of OCD (whatever they call it in veterinary medicine). I have some research to do this weekend. On Monday I will be making an appointment with our vet to discuss Ducky’s renewed snarkiness toward Shadow. I want to go to the appointment armed with as much information as I can find so we can decide on our options. I am beyond fed up with Ducky’s snarky treatment of Shadow. While there’s no chance I would ever surrender her to the shelter, I’m not going to allow this behavior to continue without consequences that she can understand. There has to be a way to help her medically in addition to exercise and positive reinforcement. So far today she is back to being the sweet and sassy little pooch I fell in love with four years ago – playing nicely with Shadow here in the yard and in the house.

Sorry, no photos today folks. Just me thinking out loud and sharing my thoughts.

It’s Amazing…

What a diet free of table scraps can do for a dog – specifically my dogs!

For the past several weeks, both Shadow and Ducky have not had any table scraps sneaked to them by the dog-daddy – mostly because I’ve been watching him like a hawk and not giving him any opportunity to do so – and their digestive systems are reaping the benefits.

Yes, Ducky had a cluster of minor IBS episodes a few weeks ago; but those were due to her anxieties. And to issues I’d rather not talk/write about publicly. ┬áBesides, our regular vet’s new associate took a look at things and prescribed CatLax to help with the physiological side. And it has been like a miracle drug for her. #ThanksDr.Simpson!

Anyway, just before our last order of food was due to ship from #Chewy, one of the customer service reps sent me an email to say that they had removed the food from the order because they were no longer offering it. I was frantic. Shadow has always had trouble transitioning to new food. What to do??!

I decided to take a chance on a similar recipe – same brand, just different recipe – and use what I had left of the other to transition her to the new.

I’m happy to report that we are down to our last can and a quarter of the old food; AND┬áno adverse reactions. Even without the Metoclopromide and Metronidazole, Shadow has been transitioning without any problem at all. ┬áDucky is back on her prescription food – at least for now and maybe permanently – so no transition issues with her either.

Table scraps in moderation – like everything else – probably would not have upset the apple cart. BUT┬ámy definition of “moderation” and the hubby’s definition of it are eons apart. So, ┬áI’ve had to become the food police for my dogs’ sakes. And it is amazing┬áhow much difference it makes in their appetite, their attitude, and their overall health.

A Heartbreaking Anniversary 


Today – this morning actually – is the first anniversary of our precious Callie getting her angel wings.

I’m handling it better than I expected to. Yes, it hurts like hell. Yes, I miss my girl more every day. 

But – a BIG but – she’s not suffering any more. She’s a healthy, happy soul again free of her earthly form. I’m happy for my girl. 

I’m happy to have been her mom. Happy for all the wonderful memories she gave us. Happy that she helped me raise her and her younger sisters. 

Life has not been the same, will never be the same, without our beautiful girl. But we’ve adapted, adjusted, and done our best to move forward. 

I watch Shadow during the day. She prefers to sleep in Callie’s old favorite spots – in front of the bathtub, on the one dog bed of Callie’s that wasn’t ruined during her illness, on the kitchen floor next to my chair, and right outside the bathroom door while I’m taking a shower. And she loves to play fetch and keep-away, just as Callie did. Odd that she won’t play with Callie’s stuffed toys though. I know Callie wouldn’t mind – she was always good about sharing all the toys. 

And Ducky? In her own way I’m sure she misses Callie; but she’s been playing more with Shadow. And giving Shadow good-morning kisses when I first let her out of her crate. And she’s not snarking at Shadow as much any more. I think she has figured out that Shadow is truly her best doggie friend as well as her big sister. I’m pretty sure Callie is smiling down at them both. 

I still need to dab at my leaky eyes with a tissue at times. The realization that I can’t stroke her fur or kiss her good night, watch her snuggle with Shadow, or watch her teach Ducky to mind her manners still feels like a dagger in my heart. Yet the memories of such moments make me smile, with or without tears.

Hubby said last night that “she left us too soon”. I said that “even if she had lived to be 15 and a half, like Kissy, it would have been too soon.” But she hasn’t really left us. Her earthly form is gone, but her spirit is always here with us. She watches over us. And occasionally she lets me catch a glimpse of her spirit. Somehow she lets Shadow know, too, that she is still here. I sense it at times.

Reflections on the Past Year

As I sit here drinking my second cup of coffee – listening to and watching Shadow nap and Ducky eat her breakfast – my thoughts wander off to memories of my sweet Callie. And Kissy. It has been a year (last week) since our vet called to tell us the lab results confirmed his diagnosis two days earlier of Callie’s lymphoma. We had already decided to go ahead with the chemotherapy. If there was even a slight chance that it would improve Callie’s prognosis – which Steve felt it would – we had to do it. And it did help some. Her eyes brightened, she started playing more often, and the visible tumors had started to shrink in size. But the cancer had started to spread internally despite the chemo. 


Callie was a trooper. She did her best to hide her pain and discomfort. She continued to play with her sisters as much as she could. She even took the time to teach Ducky how to behave, and to teach Shadow how to tolerate and deal with Ducky when she was snarky. She knew we humans were in denial about her remaining time with us, I guess; and figured her younger sisters needed to start getting along with each other to make life easier for us.

Kissy and I shared a bond that I thought I’d never have again. We were each other’s soulmate, best friend. She was the first dog who was mine from the start; my “baby” as opposed to my “baby sister”.  I was “Mommy” and I took the responsibility for her health, happiness, and overall wellbeing to heart. I considered her needs in every decision I made from the day I first brought her home at 16 weeks of age to the day I held her in my arms as the vet gave her the final injection when she was 15-1/2 years old. Although I loved my husband with my whole heart (and still do), Kissy’s departure left me heartbroken and empty. At first I didn’t think I’d ever get another dog. But as each day passed, I missed hearing the pitter-patter of little puppy feet on the kitchen floor more and more. I knew what was missing in my life. And I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I had another dog in my life. Hubby resisted at first, but I wasn’t giving in. He finally agreed to another dog on the condition it not be another small dog. I was okay with that. We decided on a Golden Retriever.

Kissy found Callie for me. She knew Callie would be perfect. As a puppy, Callie had been as sweet and affectionate as Kissy. In some ways, even more so. And as she grew up, she remained sweet and affectionate. But she was also self-confident, independent, and a little “bossy”. And, like Kissy, a quick learner. And when I decided she needed a playmate, another dog to keep her company when we had to be away from home, Callie took it upon herself to be surrogate mama. Kissy knew Callie would help fill my emptiness and so she went back to sleep in my heart and allowed Callie to take over.  

Callie was my heart dog, too. Kissy had been totally dependent on me her entire life, at a time when that was what I needed in my life. Callie was my independent girl, but with a heart of gold. She was my helper, my teacher, my best friend as well as my canine daughter. She helped me raise Shadow, and then Ducky.  And to be honest, she did a better job of raising them than I did. She taught them both how to be dogs and enjoy life. And she taught them how to get along with each other once she was gone. Ducky was a better student than I gave her credit for at first.

Shadow has always been a “Velcro dog”.  I named her “Callie’s Shadow” because we got her to be Callie’s buddy, cohort, and companion. The name fit her perfectly.  They were only six months apart in age, so we never really thought about one of them ever being without the other. 


Since Callie’s departure to the spirit world, Shadow has become MY shadow. A little more each day. She seems to have accepted the fact that Callie isn’t coming home, at least not in her earthly form. But she still prefers to sleep in Callie’s favorite spots – other than the (human) beds – and play Callie’s favorite outdoor game. And she sniffs at Callie’s favorite stuffy toys when I take them out of the closet, even though she walks away from them after a moment or two. I know she misses Callie. She misses the snuggling, the grooming, the companionship, all the moments they shared from day one.  All those moments that can’t be replaced, only added to, as each day went by. 

Every time that hubby and I have to leave the house without Shadow – whether Ducky’s home or at daycare – I feel guilty. And I feel like we should adopt another senior Golden Retriever to keep Shadow company, and to be her friend. 

Two things stop me. First, the mere fact that we just cannot afford a third dog at this point in our lives. And second, but more important, I don’t want to risk a setback in the relationship between Shadow and Ducky. Ducky was always competing with Shadow for Callie’s attention. Callie was “top dog” and Ducky knew it. She didn’t want Shadow around when she played with Callie. 

Now that Callie is here in spirit only, Ducky is happy to have Shadow around even though she still gets snarky with her at times. And Shadow likes to play doggie games with her little sister. A third dog – I think – would just upset the applecart all over again. Someone would end up being left out of the games. And I’d end up feeling guilty about it. So, when we leave the house without the dogs, I ask Callie to watch over them. And I try to put my guilty feelings aside.

Know Your Limitations 

Last Saturday – while I was in the shower – hubby was outside, getting ready to bring our riding lawnmower for service. He tripped on the side of the concrete driveway, fell, and landed hard on his left knee and shoulder.  He was coming back inside as I was going outside to help him load the mower on to the trailer…

Needless to say, we didn’t go anywhere the rest of the day.  I cleaned up the abrasions but he refused an ice pack. At 6 pm, he tried to get out of the chair and couldn’t. I had to call EMS. We got to the ER about 6:30. And we were there for 3+ hours.

Poor Ducky was totally confused, and stressed. When the EMTs arrived the first time. I had to put her in the room downstairs to keep her from acting out against them. That just added to her confusion and stress. When Sam was settled into the ambulance, I brought Ducky back upstairs and put her in her crate in the bedroom. I gave them both kisses and a treat, and locked up the house.  And followed the ambulance to the hospital. I didn’t see the girls again until about quarter to ten. By the time I got home, the poor dogs needed to relieve themselves and were hungry. Sam was being brought home in an ambulance in another half hour or so. Then the confusion and stress rose again for Ducky when once more she had to wait downstairs while the EMTs got her dog-daddy settled in the bed.

Sunday was stressful, too. But fast forward to bedtime. Ducky snarked at Shadow for trying to get in the bedroom.  Something she hasn’t done in a long time. And Monday morning they had another “altercation” over a damn ball. Luckily, no blood was drawn; but Shadow cried out before I could get Ducky under control and downstairs to cool off. And give myself a chance to cool off. Ducky may not understand the concept of timeout; but she knows when Mommy is pissed off. I gave Shadow a Tramadol to relieve the pain where Ducky clamped down on her leg, and reassured her that she did nothing wrong. After about 20 or 30 minutes, I let Ducky come back upstairs. They “made up” but pretty much kept their distance from each other the rest of the day. 

That’s when I decided I had more than enough stress having to play nursemaid to an immobile spouse. I needed help with Ducky. So I called the owner of Ducky’s daycare and asked her to put together a quote for me to resume a 5-days-a-week schedule for Ducky until hubby regains the majority of his mobility. 

It’s not the ideal situation. I’d rather have Ducky home  – and she would prefer to be home – and learning to deal with her daddy’s situation with my help. But I know myself. I know that when I’m stressed and tired, my patience suffers.  And that’s not good for Ducky. Or for Shadow. Ducky needs an outlet for her turbocharged energy – and her stress – that I can’t provide all day long right now. Especially with Shadow on leash restriction. And Shadow needs focused love and attention. So, for now at least, Ducky will be spending at least half a day at daycare every weekday.  She was worn out yesterday afternoon when I picked her up; and there was peace between my girls all evening, even at bedtime.

So, my advice is this: when you’re in a stressful situation, acknowledge your limitations and gather the courage to ask for whatever help you need. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone you love and live with a big favor. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Friday Fun´╗┐

This heat and humidity is horrible today! So bad that even Shadow – who loves being outside – couldn’t wait to come back inside after relieving herself.

Ducky’s at daycare today, so we had some “just me and my Shadow” time. So glad Shadow loves this game. It’s perfect for when she’s on leash restriction like she is now. I do all the work and she doesn’t have to move.


As long as Shadow’s happy, I’m happy. Right now she’s napping. In about 20 minutes I have to leave to pick Ducky up at daycare. 

What kind of games do you play with your dog(s) when they have to remain relatively quiet?  

Have a great weekend everyone!